Carp Fishing Basics. The Ultimate Guide For Beginners!

Written by Joshua in Fishing
Image Credits: Pexels.com

Don’t begin reading unless the wife is asleep or not going to banish you to sleep on the couch for getting lost in this guide. It’s pretty deep and covers it all. 

From A-Z and everything I believe you need to know to begin carp fishing tomorrow!First things first, thanks for stopping by my fishing blog. If you haven’t read many of my other blog posts or aren’t too familiar with me or why this blog exists, we can take the time now to cover a few basics.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Carp Fishing

Over the last half-decade or so, I’ve been learning the sport of carp fishing and trying to evolve my skills into something more than just a hobby fisherman but someone who can help others effectively fish for carp as well.

It’s taken some time and I have failed or screwed up so many things through trial and error that I knew someone else had to be having some of the same experiences with this as well. The early on carp fishing struggles is a good way to sum it up.

Naturally, I did what everyone does when they have a question in life. I started googling how to get better. I found a ton of information but it was so spread and scattered, I decided I wanted to try and place all my experiences into one hub for everyone to see so we could interact and all grow the hobby together, so to speak.

I’m not paid to fish for carp or to blog even. This is purely for fun. I hope this doesn’t take away from any of the experiences or failures/successes I share with you or even your view on the information I lay out for you.

As far the success and failures with carp fishing I’ve had? Well, there has been plenty. Most likely more failures to be honest but I’m learning as I go. I just prefer the transparency to be out in the open in case you are looking for something different while researching how to improve your angling skills.

Valuable Information and Tools

The internet is flooded with tons of helpful information, so I’m by no means trying to go over the top with this post but simply at least illustrate the simple basics and what’s needed to stand a chance at success with carp fishing. We will cover everything from the best baits, or “carp baits” to carp fishing rigs and methods to even fly fish for carp.

As far as recommended gear with carp fishing, this isn’t really the best place to find it, but I have dedicated another area of my blog to discuss some of the primary tools you would need to begin the journey. You can see that resource here. It’s completely free and just one guys recommendation on what tools will get you stared.

Don’t feel any obligation to abide by it and trial and error is always a great method to learning what tools work and which ones don’t as well.

I can tell you that anything recommended is recommended for a reason or deserves to be there, so it won’t steer you wrong or hurt your chances at landing carp by any means. I’m always open to new suggestions from other anglers who have specific items they know work so if you are one of them, feel free to comment below and I can always add your valuable opinion to the blog or recommended gear so that all the readers and carp anglers can ultimately benefit from this post.

Why am I providing you the Information?

To be honest, when I began, I was an avid catfish angler. I would run into carp using some of the common catfish baits. My love for catfish was the fight and the patience involved with the sport. The mental struggle of waiting it out and outwitting your opponent.

Well, some of the best carp bait is also some of the best baits for other species of fish as well. Naturally, I realized I was missing out on another great fish to target.

Once I realized they can get equally as large, put up the same fight, I began to grow pretty interested in adding them to my routine and learning as much as I could about them to develop my skills.

What we are Currently Reading and What this Blog Post Will Cover

I’m sure your probably wondering why I don’t have many blogs on catfishing and that answer is simple. Part 1 of the answer is that it’s coming soon, and part B of the answer is I think catfish are well known and the methods used to catch them are more universally known and easily accessible.

Simply meaning, I thought this added more immediate value for new anglers.

If I was going to take the time to inform the readers about my struggles with learning carp fishing, I wanted to help someone out who may just be in the early stages of the learning process.

Consider this post to be your ultimate guide and resource library for everything I currently know regarding carp fishing, carp baits and or the best carp baits and methods you can use to fish for them such as fly fishing for carp, ice fishing for carp or even bow fishing for carp.

We will discuss as much as I know currently, and you have my word that I will continue to update this page as I learn new top tricks and tips of the trade.

The Breakdown of This Guide to Save Time and Effort

The blog will be broken up into categories/chapters, and if a specific area isn’t completely 100% in depth, most likely I will include a link to a full in-depth article to a blog post I’ve created in the past. I wanted to keep this as short as possible for basically being an E-book for carp fishing.

You will also notice a table of contents at the top of the page. If you’re going to skip straight to a specific portion of the article, it’s not going to hurt my feelings in the slightest. The only thing that I ask is that you leave a brief comment in the comment box below if you found any value from the blog post.

The Result of this Guide

This guide should effectively break down and illustrate everything needed to begin carp fishing effectively. From tackle and bait all the way to clothing and casting methods.

My goal was to eliminate as many questions as possible or at least answer every question about carp fishing that I know I asked throughout my beginning stages of the process.

Anyways, without further ado, let’s get started with Chapter 1 of carp fishing.

Thanks for stopping by and best of luck out their carp fishing for all experienced and new beginning carp anglers.

Chapter 1.1: Understanding How Carp Operate

So, what do we need to know about the carp as a species before beginning our angling aspirations? The first and most important thing to know about the carp is that they are a highly underrated sport/game fish. Many wouldn’t even consider them as such currently.

They place a hindrance on some bodies of water, but overall, they are a great fish that anyone who has fished them or plans on carp fishing would agree with 100%.

Carps Are Smart and Underrated in Many Ways

Carp are also much smarter than they are given credit for. They feel the pressures from anglers all the time and have learned to adjust and avoid your hook bait at all cost. Learning the game and understanding how carp interact is just step 1 of the process. You have carp in almost every body of water you can imagine. From still waters to the rivers and streams, carp are everywhere.

You can night fish for carp or even ice fish for carp. The possibilities are endless. I had some other unique questions when learning about the carp early on as well. I have full belief that even though carp fishing requires patience, some work ethic to learn and the willingness to try new methods, that this guide and can steer you into a clear understanding of the species and that you could be catching carp within your first trip out this year.

If it doesn’t, well then, I apologize and didn’t mean to waste your time.

About the Carp

The carp was and currently is still a dominant fish primarily in Europe and Asia. Over the last few decades, it has gained some steam in the US and gained some popularity. It’s even become a tournament fish.

Carp can be broken down into different categories, or “kinds” of carp and anglers have also begun giving certain carp nicknames due to appearance such as the “mirror carp” Mirror carp is simply referring to the common carp, but the scales show a random pattern across the carp’s body.

You even have the “ghost carp” which is one of the newest names and versions we have placed on the common carp in recent years.

Other Carp Fish Species

The ghost carp is merely referring to the color of the fish which has a silver/gray appearance. I’m sure we are familiar with another nickname of carp as well known as the Asian carp or the jumping carp. I won’t go in great depth about why carp jump but the link a few words back will give you excellent blog post where I break down the specifics of the “why” behind the famous jumping carp.

Some species of carp get larger than other species.

For a great reference tool, you can see my guide on how big carp get here. I took some time in really trying to break the carp down by species, record weights, and normal weight. Depending what your targeting, it should prove to be valuable to your overall carp knowledge and what you can expect for your exact species that you are trying to catch.

Some of you readers may just be looking for some facts about carp as well. A fun fact I learned along the way in my carp angling time I’ve put in was regarding carp’s winter and sleeping habits? So, let me ask you, “do carp sleep”?

I honestly didn’t know the answer either, but I did take the time to write about if carp sleep or not in this blog post for you. It’s just a “for fun” read if you feel like learning the answer. Otherwise, we will keep it a mystery for the time being.

We need to get into the meat and potatoes of the learning process for carp fishing otherwise I’d spend more time on every single topic we discuss.

Chapter 1.2: The Different Kinds of Carp

The reason we are going to break these down just a bit is mainly that we all can be “carp anglers” so to speak but with all the images we see on the internet, or throughout magazines, it’s nice to know why it looks like we are always viewing a different fish.

Let’s briefly cover all the kinds of carp you can run into depending on your geographical location and the body of water your choosing to fish. You can see a detailed version of each kind of carp in my how big do carp get a blog post that was linked to in the paragraph above.

Here’s a quick reference guide at the different carp species according to Wikipedia.

  • Silver Carp
  • Grass Carp
  • Common Carp
  • Bighead Carp
  • Crucian Carp
  • Catla Carp
  • Black Carp
  • Mrigal Carp
  • Mud Carp

Again, for exact specifics on each of these fish refer to my other blog post, how big do carp get. The link is a few paragraphs up for you.

Chapter 1.3: Where are Carp Primarily Located and Found?

Again, carp primary was and are currently still found in Europe and Asia but have become domesticated and at high populations amount virtually worldwide. Carp also are found in almost any body of water except your driveway puddle.

Rivers, Ponds and Lakes, Basins, Pits

You can effectively find and locate carp on rivers, lakes, ponds, commercial fisheries, and other basins. Not to mention club lakes. Carp reproduce very quickly and seem to travel rapidly from one geographical location to the next through channels and rivers primarily. If there is a sport or hobby to pick up going forward into 2019. It’s carp fishing.

It’s accessible, challenging and just 100% pure fun. When it comes to knowing which of these locations will work best for you, it really comes down to what waters you have easy access to, and which waters won’t dash your hopes to quickly.

What do I mean by this?

Well, River fishing is a bit more complicated for carp than let’s say a pond, lake or fishery. You need to begin your carp fishing adventures on water you can expect to get some practice and chances at catching carp. You can’t learn until you mess some things up and have some fresh data and information to apply to your fishing studies. Fish the option or body of water from above that you believe can land you a few carp or at least a chance at one per outing.

Ideally, you would want the ability to catch a carp of 15-20 plus pounds as well so just knowing they are in the waters your fishing is good enough for now.

Chapter 1.4: How Carp Became a Targeted Game Fish

This could probably be debated among us who actively carp fish. My theory on the increased popularity and number of anglers targeting carp comes down to a few simple factors. First, people have caught on what a real challenge carp fishing can be.

There are so many moving parts that go into carp fishing effectively that it makes it a true challenging species of fish to target. Also, they put up a hell of a fight.

Staying up to Date with the Changing Sport of Carp Fishing

For many of you that have already read my newest blogs or subscribe to my email newsletter also know that I love catfish fishing as well. If you haven’t taken the time to subscribe or don’t know this about me yet, now is your chance. It’s on the bottom right of your screen.

It’s just an email address, and in return, I will keep you up to date with all my latest blogs, tips, tricks and advice and of course keep you updated on the newest carp gear options that will further your carp fishing success. Thirdly, I believe it’s taking off in popularity due to the ease of access.

With carp populating so many waters and always presenting the capabilities of striking in different climates, I believe many anglers just figured out that carp fishing was initially being wasted. The carp have always been there, they just weren’t the fish we all targeted once upon a time, but the script is slowly beginning to flip on that.

Let’s move onto the next section and begin discussing the essential items we need to know for effective carp fishing.

The Fundamentals of Carp Fishing

Chapter 2: The Fundamentals of Carp Fishing For Beginners

Fundamentals with any skill are essential to getting it right eventually. Carp fishing is no different. It’s not going to be a walk in the park your first time hitting the water. We already discussed that they are highly underrated and much smarter than people think. They react to the angling pressure all of us put on them, and they find ways to adjust to our methods.

Think of carp fishing like a well-played football game but’s always the second half of the game. They adjust based on the pond, river or lake your fishing and based on what baits they have been exposed to, where they have been caught and what we all do as anglers. It’s our job to keep the pressure on and stay on offense to continue having success catching carp.

With the fundamentals we discuss in chapter two and some effort on your end, carp fishing should start clicking mentally, and the chips should start stacking in your favor.

Chapter 2.1: Carp Fishing Basics for the Newbie

Anywhere Anytime

The first part of this section is going to discuss the basics. Key number 1 is to understand that you can literally fish carp anywhere (most likely)

#1 Learn to Be a Stalker

With Carp Fishing, you need to understand and learn the game of stalking. Stalking is essentially finding them with your eyes from shore or your boat (difficult). You will be checking shallows, weed areas and other areas of downed branches and high brush. Here’s another in-depth article about how to fish the weed for carp if you are already at that stage.

#2 Carps Get Spooked Easy

Moving onto to another pro tip is that you need to realize that carp spook perhaps easier than any other fish. You must remain stealthy and be aware of what you are doing not to ruin your chances of catching carp.

#3 Fishing at the Correct Times of the Day

Fishing at the correct time of day for carp is all key. When is the best time to fish for carp is a question I get from a lot of beginners or even experienced anglers just wanting to know what successes and failures I’ve had in my short span targeting carp.

Depending on the season, mornings and evenings will always prove valuable especially if you are targeting the carp that are 10 plus pounds. They seem to be a bit lazier in the day. I know your probably thinking, how do I catch big carp quickly? I’d say the first part of that answer is baby steps first but also targeting these times of the day will increase your chances.

I’ve also always had great luck targeting carp in the middle of the day. They may not be the monsters you’re after, but I have still effectively reeled in carp right after 12pm.

They tend to be a little more surfaced during this time depending on the weather and enjoying a nice tan in the sun. I broke down a small case study based on forums, other bloggers and asking other carp group messaging boards. 

The case study is all about when the best time to fish for carp really is. You can see it here for a more in-depth look at best times to fish for carp.

Chapter 2.2: Understanding Carp Spawning

Spawning is another critical step in the process. Carp are very tough to catch during spawn season and spawn season can vary based on water temperature, overall climate, and conditions. Sometimes it’s started, already completed and you’re ready to begin carp fishing by April, and occasionally it’s still popping up in mid-summer. Trying to catch carp during spawn time is not worth it. Scouting however is, but we can discuss that a little further in the post.

Let the carp finish spawning than actively target them again. You will notice the carp surfaced and running in groups of 2-5 typically but I usually only see 2-3 together.

I have broken down the spawn times for all 50 states and the water temperatures for prime spawn seasons for carp in my blog post, “when do carp spawn.” It’s worth looking if you have the time or want to know a little more about it. Trust me, the information is well worth it to know before actively attempting to fish during this time.

Chapter 2.3: Understanding Carp Environments

Carp are avid brush, lily pad, and other underwater structure fans. This is the primary hangout for carp for a majority of the year. Winter may be an exception, but carp can typically still be spotted in these locations.

Many different rigs, bait methods, and casting techniques can be used to navigate these areas effectively. We will cover the advanced techniques later in the post, but it’s important to understand that beginning the carp fishing journey knowing that these are hot spots is crucial.

Chapter 2.4: Carp Feeding Times and Feeding Habits

Carp feedings times can alter drastically depending on the time of the year. In the spring, you must work around the spawn times which we have already covered. When you start rolling into the autumn months, you can catch a ton of carp first thing in the morning.

The point is, most areas will be different. We are all probably fishing for carp in different states or possibly even different countries such as the UK.  You need to take the time to learn your specific area and what the carp feeding habits tend to be.

Maybe they will only strike 1 bait during a time of the year, and perhaps they all just go after basically anything. It can vary significantly by area and season, so the only way to truly know is to get out there and start carp fishing.

Chapter 3: Carp Fishing by Season

Now comes the carp fishing and how it can vary by season. I think I have a blog post you can see on every season or several of them but one that sticks out as a must read for better carp fishing is my fall fishing for carp. 

The point of this section of the blog is to effectively allow the anglers to understand that carp can be caught any time of the year.

Yes, that even includes the winter. Let’s cover a brief bit about each season and what changes with carp fishing.

Chapter 3.1: Winter

Winter carp fishing is perhaps the most challenging season of them all outside of spawn season. Carp become very slow to move, sluggish and not nearly as aggressive to bite whatever hook bait you are using. You must use strategy in the winter and play the weather elements as often as possible for effective carp fishing.

Bait Presentation and Weather Elements

You’re looking for days of some wind and some light/ heavy sunshine. This can be enough to get the carp out of the hiding and into the shallow weed. Sometimes even in the margins looking for oxygen. 

Proper bait and bait presentation are also a significant factor in the winter. You’re going to want to go heavier on attractants and appeal to the large carp and the small carp at the same time.

Chapter 3.2: Spring

Spring carp fishing could be arguably the best time of the year to catch carp minus the spawning season. The carp have the metabolisms revved up, and they are ready to eat after a long winter of not really doing much of anything.

This is also the perfect opportunity to begin scouting areas and stalking some carp as well. 

If you were to faint of heart to start fishing for carp in the winter, on the first few nice days the year is your time to get out and begin walking and learning the water you will be fishing for the next 3 seasons.

Begin Looking for Signs of Carp Activity

Again, spring is prime time to begin looking for carp movement or for carp to start showing signs of movement, life, and activity. You can begin looking for muddy clouds in the shallows, carp potentially surfacing or spawning and begin the stalking process near the downed branches, weed and lily pad that we discussed previously in the blog post.

Once you have completed these steps, you will be ready to begin presenting bait to the carp and actively targeting your first fish of the year. Just don’t skip the early preparation phases if you are looking for the ultimate chance at success.

Learning how to find the carp is the key effectively. My guide, how to locate carp can give you a huge leg up on this process, and I really tried to be thorough and detailed about the process in that blog post. It’s just too critical of a step to neglect if you’re really trying to step your game up.

Chapter 3.3: Summer Carp Fishing

This is by far my favorite season for carp fishing. During my 5 or so years, I’ve found no better time to catch carp with ease than during the summer. At times many of you may find this surprising as well. 

Mid-day in the summer near the shallows with the sun shining is one of the best opportunities I have seen for landing more carp.

Although extreme heat can be bad, some sunshine and summer isn’t necessarily a dream killer with carp fishing. They are highly active, on the move and ready to strike in the summer in my experience.

Chapter 3.4: Fall Carp Fishing

Fall carp fishing can be equally as good as spring and summer. The carp understand that time is limited, and they need to feast before slowing down for the year. They are prepared to go on one last savage spree before calling it a quits for the year.

Now is your chance to execute and land some of the last carp you can for the calendar year unless you have decided to rough it out and continue through the winter.

In the fall, the fishing is really “getting hot” again so to speak. You will be able to effectively find carp in the fall near the shallows and flats. If your fishing a pond or small bodied area of water, it’s probably going to be easy to spot the carp along the edges. Remember to stay quiet and stealthy as we discussed before, they are smarter than you think.

Traveling in Bunches

Carp in the fall for whatever reason tend to be moving in larger groups than they do in the other seasons. You will usually spot them running in groups of 2-6 carp or so. 

Especially in rivers. 

Carp fishing the fall in rivers you can often run into hundreds of them bunched together searching for those last few meals of the year.

Always try locating carp if you are fishing the river near the mouths or discharges. 

It seems to be the hot spot in my experience. 

The easy explanation as to why would be all the hook free food they are able to garnish near the mouths of these rivers. They need to load up before the winter, and the mouths are going to have a substantial natural overflow of food sources for them to feast on.

Chapter 4: The Carp Fishing Gear

Now it’s time for more of the fun stuff. 

Let’s get into some of the gear that’s needed to carp fish effectively. Having the proper equipment and being prepared is the only way to begin carp fishing effectively. Without it, you will ultimately end up going home empty-handed.

Again, in the intro paragraph area, you will find a link that takes you to my resources/recommended gear pages. 

I didn’t want this to be an entire blog about gear so if you’re going to see what I recommend and how/where to purchase it, make sure to visit that page on your way. Anything else worthy of needing an honorable mention, I’ll be sure to include a link or description for you guys in this upcoming section.

Chapter 4.1: Fishing Rods, Reels and Fishing Line

Again, we won’t cover these super in depth. That’s what the recommended gear page exist so make sure to stop by there if you see an item that I don’t include as in-depth as you would like. On that page, I don’t leave anything not explained and all gear I recommended is broken down in heavy detail.

As far as rods, you need to realize that most anglers carp fishing have multiple rods. Sometimes up to 4-5 but I recommend no fewer than 2 to begin. Three key factors to remember about your rods are the test curve, action, and length.

I’d say the best overall rod set up you can have would be a 12- or 13-foot rod, with a test curve around 2.75lb. This shouldn’t break the bank too badly.

Chapter 4.2: Fishing Reels for Carp

The biggest key to remember with picking a reel for carp fishing is you need the ability to use free spool mode. A fixed spool reel overall will work great for carp fishing just make sure the free spool mode comes with the package. 

Without this capability, you run a significant risk of the rod being pulled straight into the water. It won’t take that large of carp to ruin your days’ worth of carp fishing in a hurry.

As far as the best fishing line I’d choose for carp fishing? I’d just visit my other blog that describes at length the differences in fishing line and which to select for carp fishing. 

It breaks down the differences between the 4 major kinds of fishing’s lines and gives full scope depth of the pros and cons of each method. It will help you along learning the best carp fishing lines quickly.

Best Fishing Line for Carp

For the quick answer to the best fishing line for carp, you could go with an easy mono filament line with about a 10-12 lb. Test but I’m also a big fan of the fluorocarbon fishing line. I strongly suggest making this call on your own after reading my in-depth guide provided above.

Chapter 4.3: Carp Gear Master List

The Master List of Carp Fishing Gear/ Carp Fishing Tackle

Here I’m going to break down other items you should either have on your first trip or consider getting as soon as possible. It’s going just to be a quick list and again refer to the recommended gear page for in-depth analysis for any of the equipment or the exact products I recommend for effective carp fishing.

  • Landing Net
  • Weigh Sling and Scales
  • Forceps
  • Mat: For Unhooking the Carp
  • Rod Rest and Pods (Must Have, Don’t Wait on this Item)
  • Bite Indicator: I highly Recommenced a Bite Alarm
  • Bite Indicators
  • Rod and Reel Holders (Luggage Holder So to Speak)
  • Chair- This is up to you but don’t complain if your standing and waiting all day
  • Shelter- Only if you think you are making this a real hobby and plan on fishing against the elements.
  • Baiting Table
  • Box/ Tackle Box for your Carp Fishing Rigs and Tackle
  • Line Cutter or Knife
  • Rig Pullers
  • Loop Maker
  • Baiting Needle
  • Stringer Needle
  • Bait Drill
  • Hook Sharpener
  • Bait Stops
  • Bait Punch
  • PVA BAGS
  • Catapult (Don’t Skip on This Either)

Chapter 4.4: Carp Fishing Hooks

Hooks are easy to figure out. It’s a number system. As the number climbs, the hook gets bigger. If you aren’t quite up to speed with putting together any rigs or setups you may want to buy some prepackaged hooks that already have a rig ready to go.

You can buy hooks easily that already come with the hook links in placed and rigged up to nylon, fluorocarbon and braided fishing lines.

It’s highly recommended in all honesty that you start with setups that are pre-made for you. It’s tough learning the actual assembly behind the hook links and rigs, and carp are very picky. Learning off high-quality pre-made ones will let you learn while still having a chance at catching carp in the meantime and building your skill set.

When your ready and become more advanced. You can obviously move onto completing this task all on your own.

For the time being, the only disadvantage you will have vs. the other Carp Angler across the fishery from you is that you are limited to your purchased setups. Don’t worry about this. Just go with the flow and begin learning the craft slowly. If you don’t, I can almost guarantee your luck and results will diminish significantly. How do I know?

Been there, Done That. Epic Mistake. Many days with no fish landed and frustration.

So what size fishing hook do you need to catch carp effectively?

Always keep in mind that carp can range from 3-50 plus pounds. It’s apparent that we need some solid gear involved to make sure we ultimately land the fish. I would personally always be stocked well with many different options of sizes and styles. Anywhere from a size 6 to a size 12 will get job generally.

Hook Sizes by Bait Selection

  • Size 10-12 Hook:
    These hooks will work excellent with smaller bait selections such as small boilies or using one of my favorites, sweet corn.
  • Size- 8-10 Hook:
    Work Great for larger size boilies ranging up to about 20mm.
  • Size 6 Hook:
    Best for larger boilie or pellet setups.

If your going with the straight on the hook approach a size 6 or size, 8 will be suitable to get the job done. This can be great for direct applications such as fishing with bread.

I can’t really tell you precisely what hook set up will ultimately be best for you because it can vary so much from angler to angler. The above sizes are merely a short and sweet guide to get you started with carp fishing effectively.

Chapter 5: Carp Fishing Rigs

What is a carp rig anyway?

A carp rig merely is what’s attached to the end of your fishing line and allows for the bait presentation that you have already pre-determined based on fishing location and overall carp fishing goals for the day.

Let’s move into different rig setups you can use for carp fishing. Again, I’m not an expert on carp rigs and tons of other valuable information is available basically anywhere you choose to look. I’m only going to describe the ones I’m familiar with, used before, or had success with.

I may throw in a few others I’ve been wanting to try as well but just haven’t done so yet.

All carp rigs are useful for different applications and can be used in different scenarios. You must navigate this slowly and learn what works best for what you are ultimately trying to accomplish. The list of possible rigs you can use for carp fishing is almost endless, so I can’t adequately describe every option you have. These are all basic generic rigs that work for the beginner, average or experienced carp angler.

Disclaimer. I’m also not an artist or experienced with graphic design so for the sake of images, I will use generic images on how these rigs are configured. I know a YouTube video would probably help you at much greater lengths, but I haven’t overcome my camera fear quite yet.

The Basic Hair Rig

The hair rig has been used for a long time and is always the best starting point for beginners. The idea in mind is just to remove the bait from the real hook by a pre-determined length making it easier for the carp to actively eat the bait and allow for a cleaner hook set once the carp has 100% taken the bait.

Here’s an example hair rig illustration from Angling Iron.

The Running Leger Rig

This is another basic carp rig that can be a great starting point for all the new carp anglers reading. This rig still catches plenty of carp regardless of the simplicity of the rig. It allows the carp to virtually feel nothing while dabbling with your bait which in returns keep the carp feeling safe to take the bait.

The Chod Rig

The chod rig is closely related to the helicopter rig. This is designed to keep the bait floating or buoyant while fishing the bottoms of your designated fishing location. These are also relatively simple to put together which is why they earned a spot in this beginner’s guide to carp fishing. Here’s a look at the chod rig.

The Zig-Rig: The Crowd Favorite

The zig rig is an incredible set up for carp fishing. It’s also designed to remain buoyant above the water bottom. You can quickly change depths or even have different rods fishing different depths with the zig rigs until you locate and pinpoint exactly where the carp seem to be feeding.

You will want to learn your own personal favorite way of tying and constructing a zig rig due to so many variations being available. Again, the main attraction as to why carp anglers prefer the zig rig is the ability to change depth and alter your game plan quickly if need be.

Chapter 6: Ice Fishing For Carp

I’m sure some of you are wondering why this belongs in this beginner’s guide. Well, the answer to that question is carp fishing during the winter, or ice fishing for carp is 100% doable. 

It may not be for you or be your cup of tea, but you can surely catch carp ice fishing. You will need some essentials to get the job done. 

Here’s a quick list of some of the minimum equipment you will need to ice fish for carp.

  • Hand Auger or Gas-Powered Auger
  • Seating
  • All your usual carp gear
  • Shorter fishing rod to have flexibility fishing through your ice hole.

Ice fishing for carp is by far the most challenging method and results in the fewest landed carp for the day, but it can also result in some good size carp. You’re playing a different game when ice fishing carp. 

The metabolisms are basically dead, and they are not spending much energy moving around. Now is the time that stalking and preparation become huge. A lot of the same general rules for carp fishing apply to ice fishing for carp.

They may still be near lily pads, weed, and brush and depending if you get lucky with the weather, there’s a chance that they could still be near the surface attempting to get more oxygen. 

Pre-baiting and chumming will be huge for ice fishing.

Do it over a few days and see if you can generate some interest in your bait selection. An underwater camera could also be huge. The water is crystal clear and barely moving so you can perfect clarity of what’s going on beneath the surface.

If you have the funds, I highly recommend spending the money on the camera system and you could be fishing for carp year-round.

Bringing the Bait to the Carp

When ice fishing or even winter carp fishing, they aren’t coming to your bait nearly as easy. You need to bring out the heavy machinery and do your best to get the bait as close to the carp as possible without spooking them.

Learning and practicing casting with efficiency in the winter is critical and when ice fishing, just picking the correct drill spot will ultimately make or break your success.

Don’t get discouraged, the first 5 times I attempted ice fishing I caught literally zero fish. I then invested a little time and money and used this handy resource called google and realized it was possible but I need to make some changes to get the job done effectively.

Chapter 7: Weights For Carp Fishing

Just like all the other inventory items needed for carp fishing, we also need to understand our weights and what’s going to work best.

The weights come in a vast variety of shapes and sizes, and this will even come down to your personal preference and what works best for you in the end. For example, if river fishing you are going to want to go a bit on the heavy side to keep the rig in place and fight against the water current.

The Pear Weight

This can make it easy for casting for great distance. It provides medium resistance to the biting carp. This is a basic set up and great for beginners.

The Bomb Weight

The bomb weight is going to be your casting distance machine. If you don’t need distance than you probably won’t use the bomb weight very frequently.

Shot Weights

Shot Weights will be used when float fishing or adding a little extra to a setup. You can add shot weights with ease. They can be added quickly if you need just a little more casting distance to get the job done.

Chapter 8: Fly Fishing For Carp

This by far is the most stringent form of fishing in my opinion. For carp, it’s effective, however. it takes some time to learn. It’s right up there in difficulty in my opinion as ice fishing for carp and will take some mental toughness to learn. This was the case for me at least.

As carp fishing becomes more and more popular and the carp slowly remove themselves as the outcast in the angling world, more and more anglers are considering fly fishing for carp. I personally had never thought of this before meeting another local fisherman who seemed to find It worthwhile. One of the biggest keys is realizing you aren’t fly fishing for trout when fly fishing for carp.

It’s two completely different sports and two different fish with completely different tendencies.

We will cover a few tips in case this is a primary goal of yours as a beginner is to jump straight into fly fishing for carp. If you need more detail on fly fishing in general, you can always visit the fly fishing section of the blog that will break things down for you in a much more in-depth manner.

Understanding the Carp Species in General

This goes back to chapter 1 of this post. If you want to fly fish for carp effectively, you need to know what you are fishing for. Take the time to scout and prepare before actively targeting carp. Spawning carp and carp moving in large pods are virtually a waste of time.

However, the carp nose deep in the mid actively feeding is fair game and most likely will take the fly if it’s presented correctly without spooking the carp first.

Casting in fly fishing is also much more difficult and requires practice to get it down to a science. Practice until you feel comfortable hitting your spots with ease before expecting great results out of the fishing trip.

Don’t spook the carp and make sure to lead the carp with a bit of distance.

When leading the carp with fly fishing, you also need to attempt to judge the speed that they are moving to be able to place the fly correctly.

Using good judgment with the weight of your fly will also prove to be valuable. If you are targeting the carp down in the mud, you will need a fast sinking fly to get down to the bottom quickly. If you are surface fishing the carp, the exact opposite will be true, and virtually no weight to the fly would be ideal.

It’s going to be tough learning how to cast, and lead with any ease for carp so be prepared to mess things up for a bit and learn from the mistakes and eventually you will have a good run at it.

Again, to get real in depth about carp fly fishing, don’t forget to stop by that section of the website. It breaks it down much further for you.

Chapter 9: Best or Top Baits For Carp Fishing

What do carp eat anyways?

Alight the top carp baits are probably an area of many angler’s interests and the truth of the matter with carp fishing is that I don’t think anyone really knows what the best or top carp bait really is. 

It’s not because of a lack of worthy candidates either. It’s purely because so many good options exist, and carp can be caught by hundreds of different baits.

The choice comes down to your personal preference and how you present the bait. Presentation of the bait is much more crucial than the bait itself a majority of the time. 

Most of my blog readers or followers already know I’m pretty old school and that I love fishing with bread and sweet corn. I also get boilies involved as often as possible.

If you haven’t read my blog on how to use sweetcorn or top tips for fishing with bread, it’s definitely worth a look to add to your bait options and skills using these two baits.

Outside of my favorite baits you still have a hefty list of possibilities you can use for carp fishing. Here’s a quick look at famous and useful baits for carp fishing. I have broken these down in categories for you.

  • Live Baits
  • Night Crawlers
  • Insects
  • Mollusk
  • Seed
  • Dead Plant
  • Other Carp Bait Options
  • Lures
  • Flys
  • Ground Baits
  • Particle Baits
  • Boilies
  • Dips and Glugs
  • dough baits
  • All Homemade Baits
  • Tiger Nuts
  • Hemp
  • Grains
  • Bread
  • Sweet Corn
  • Luncheon Meat
  • Hot Dogs

Chapter 10: Cooking, Preparing, Cleaning And Eating Carp.

Should it Be Done? Can it be done?

So, can you eat carp?

YES!

I think many of you by now know the answer is yes of course. 

I won’t go into extreme depths on this, but my other blog post will take care of you if you are specifically looking for this information. Plain and simple is that carp can be prepared, cooked and cleaned. It does need to be methodical, and the steps need to be followed if you expect to have any decent results with the overall taste. Don’t rush the process and be prepared to mess it up a few times first. 

Eventually, it will get better, and you will be ready to have your first carp fish fry.

Chapter 11: Fishing For Carp on Different Bodies of Water

Depending on the body of water you choose to fish, your methods will vary. 

Especially with carp fishing. Anglers deploy many different avenues when fishing for carp in rivers as opposed to lakes, ponds, and commercial fisheries.

Let’s cover some of the basics.

Chapter 11.1: Fishing for Carp In the River

Many rivers have become densely populated with carp, so there is by no means any shortage. Locating the carp remains a key for success with river fishing for carp. They are naturally going to be migrating toward the slow-moving water. You’re looking for the usual signs of carp activity anytime actively fishing the rivers. Carp surfacing, bubbles that indicate some form of feeding is taking place or any other movement near the lily pads or downed branches/trees.

The running leger rig we discussed previously in the post would be a good set up for river fishing. Don’t be surprised if you hook into other fish while fishing the river for carp. They are filled with other fish species and the baits that carp are prone to are also fan favorites for much other fish as well.

Chapter 11.2 : Lakes Ponds and Fisheries

If you are carp fishing a lake, pond or fisheries, the same initial rules will apply. Location, location, location. It’s key. In these bodies of water, bait selection is going to be a key component as well. You want to take advantage of pre-baiting the area if possible over the course of a few days.

This always proves fruitful for carp fishing. Check the edges and the common suspected area to locate the carp first. Stay stealthy as we have discussed many times.

If you’re striking out on your attempts to locate the carp, consider speaking to other anglers and see if they have any pro advice they could give up aiding you in your hunt.

Chapter 12: Alternate Methods to Carp Fishing

Chapter 12.1: Night Fishing for Carp

Night fishing for carp is a whole new adventure, and a must try for a new carp angler. You can use almost all the same rules and tackle for night fishing with a few exceptions. A good rod holder and bite alarms are must-haves for night fishing in my opinion. You won’t regret spending a few dollars making sure your prepared.

A shelter and correct headgear or lighting are also essential. Also, be alert that the bait you are most likely using for the carp may attract other neighboring animals so don’t be spooked or too scared if a fury friend greets you near your baiting table.

With scouting, you have a few options. You could complete scouting before your fishing trip, so you know the areas you’re trying to cast into ahead of time and pre-bait the area, or you can fish till morning and use the early morning as a prime time to wake up and start stalking the carp. They will be moving toward the shallows and surface during this time. Just be careful not to spook them.

Chapter 12.2: Bow Fishing for Carp

This is just pure fun. 

If you haven’t tried it. Do so. ASAP. 

I’m still learning this and haven’t had a ton of time or practice, so I ensure you, I will continue to update this post as I develop more tips and tricks of the trade. 

I do however have this guide that’s a little thin but helpful for the beginner bow fishermen. It breaks down some key tips for bow fishing carp. 

Take a look and see if it can bring you any value.

The biggest things to understand with bow fishing for carp is that aiming takes a lot of practice. If you want to get into this, start by practicing on a sinking 20oz bottle of water in some form of water.

You always need to aim more down than you think, and you can’t skip having the proper gear for bow fishing. You can follow a few steps to get cost down but overall, the wrong equipment will make it a trip that doesn’t net many fish or much fun.

Carp fishing. What do we think? Are you ready for the challenge or feel you can get started?

Hopefully, this guide really provided you with the tools needed to at least be begin your carp fishing journey. It’s a hell of a ride and worth the effort that goes into perfecting the craft.

Remember that I’m not a complete expert in carp fishing and haven’t even hit 10 years under my belt doing so. Always feel free to add to or correct me on some of my thoughts. I’m sure they aren’t perfect, and a more seasoned angler may disagree with a a few tactics.

At the very least, I feel it can get the new carp angler off to a great start. Don’t forget that other in-depth guides are available throughout the post if you need some knowledge on a more niche topic of carp fishing and that you can always visit the recommended gear section to find out more about the tools and gear I suggest being successful with your carp fishing journey.

As always, I love to hear from all of you and am still open to new recommendations and tricks of the trade. Anything that can bring value to the readers and help us all catch more fish is what it’s all about.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate you. Good luck and Get out there and Get Carp Fishing!

About Joshua
My name i Joshua, and i am one of the authors on BonFireBob - I especially like fishing and gear.

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